One-on-One with the Latest Recruit Eliminated from the Red Team — Worst Cooks in America
This season on Worst Cooks in America, 14 new hapless home cooks have joined the ranks to be mentored by chefs Tyler Florence and Anne Burrell. Split into the Blue Team and the Red Team, the recruits face new cooking challenges every week, gathering new cooking skills until just two finalists remain to face off in the last cook-off. That winner will walk away with $25,000 in cash, and his or her mentor will win bragging rights. Unfortunately, every week the two lowest-scoring recruits will be kicked out of Boot Camp. They lose the chance to win the prize money, but they leave with new skills learned from their mentors.
Every Sunday night, FN Dish has the exclusive interviews with the eliminated recruits, one from the Red Team and one from the Blue Team.
The competition reached the semifinal stage this week, with just two recruits left on each team. But before the mentors could each pick one recruit to represent them in the final cook, there would be two more tests. In the Skill Drill challenge, Taylor and Nick had to decipher an already completed dish and cook a recipe based on that. Although there were a few mistakes, Anne was proud to see how well the two guys worked together. Going into the Main Dish challenge, the recruits had to cook an improved take on their baseline recipes from Day 1 — and cook for their loved ones, who would be blind-tasting the dishes. Taylor had success with his chicken milanese, but Anne decided to have Nick represent her in the finale, and that meant she had to send Taylor home.
Why did you sign up for Boot Camp, and what did it mean for you to come here?
Taylor Hooper: I signed up for Boot Camp because I really needed to learn how to cook, myself. My fiancee really desperately needed good food, and the reason I came here was for, just pretty much that, you know. I didn’t even know that there was $25,000 until I got here. I had no idea there was prize money, but once I found that out, I was like, you know, I need this for our wedding. I really need it.
In your opinion, how did you and Nick do in replicating the dish in the Skill Drill challenge?
TH: I honestly didn’t have any problems, for the most part, replicating the dish. I feel like I really learned a lot here. I guess, you know, the hardest thing we did was trying to figure out what was in the sauce. So, we kept trying to add more tang ... and didn't realize it was vinegar rather than lemon, but I think that’s something I'll never forget at this point.
How was the Main Dish challenge for you? How do you think your dish came out?
TH: If you want me to be honest, I thought it was a joke. I thought it was really simple for me. At this point I've really learned, and I feel like I've soaked in so much. Chef Anne's a great teacher.
Was there added pressure for you knowing that you’d be cooking for your fiancee — that she’d be here tasting?
TH: Well, of course it definitely added a little bit of pressure because, you know I think the pressure was that she didn't know which one was mine, and I didn't want her talking ... smack about my dish, but she eventually didn't anyways.
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How was it working with Anne, having her as your mentor?
TH: You know, walking into the competition, I was worried to work with Chef Anne. I've seen her be a little aggressive in the past, but she seemed to like my personality, and she was just a really great teacher. She taught me a lot. So, I loved working with her.
Are there some skills or techniques that you learned from her that you think you’ll try again when you get home?
TH: I will never forget "slice, stick, dices," which is her way of cutting everything. I can't wait to cook a filet mignon. I go out and pay, like, $80 for a filet mignon. So, being able to cook it at home is nice. Really anything she's taught me I'm excited to ... go and apply at my own kitchen.
Did you ever think you’d make it this far, thinking back to Day 1?
TH: I'm not going to lie. Walk in Day 1, the only thing I kept repeating to myself was "don't be the first one to go home." ... And now I’m at semifinals, you know, and I'm happy I made it this far at least.
How would you sum up the whole experience of being on the show?
TH: It was really incredible. I met a lot of good people from completely different walks of life, who really just couldn’t cook, and I think over time you got to watch people grow. I got to grow myself. It was really just an amazing experience.